ARTICLE: Getting the Most from Infrastructure Assets: The idea of ecological accounting (published in Asset Management BC Newsletter, Winter 2016)
Note to Reader:
The Winter 2016 issue of the Asset Management BC Newsletter includes an article by the Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC. Written by Tim Pringle, Past-President, the article is the first in a two-part series for the AMBC Newsletter. Tim Pringle is Chair of the Ecological Accounting Protocol Project, an initiative of the Partnership. In the article, he discusses the importance of devising an ecological accounting protocol and the valuation issues that arise.
Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework
Released in December 2014, Asset Management for Sustainable Service Delivery: A BC Framework is a game-changer. It makes the link between local government services, the infrastructure that supports the delivery of those services, and the health of watershed systems.
The Partnership for Water Sustainability in BC is collaborating with Asset Management BC to integrate “watershed systems thinking” into the Asset Management Continuum. The Partnership is the lead for development of an Ecological Accounting Protocol which recognizes that watersheds are in fact infrastructure assets; and furthermore, that a watershed provides ‘water balance services’. These can also be described as civil services.
Think Like a Watershed
“Human settlement always depends on natural assets for basic needs. Local government, at least in BC, commands the greatest influence on the use of civil services that may be drawn from natural assets,” wrote Tim Pringle.
“In this article we explore what this process looks like on the ground in the context of site development and drainage (horizontal infrastructure) and The BC Framework.”
“Emphasis is on hydrologic functions, the primary natural form maker in watersheds and a key consideration in the process of land development, also a form maker in watersheds.”
The Practical Challenge
“Strategies for sustainable service delivery based on asset management can be more successful over the life cycle of infrastructure if both engineered and natural civil services are utilized. The challenge is how to calculate the most effective blend of these options.”
“Of course the need for measurement and valuation is paramount. While engineered services involve expenditures that are readily accounted, those drawn from nature do not have commonly accepted measures and values.”
“Let’s posit that ecological accounting is the process needed for this challenge. We explore the idea in the final sections of this article.”
To Learn More:
To download and read the complete article, click on Getting the Most from Infrastructure Assets: The idea of ecological accounting